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Nigeria’s economy’ll contract by 1.8% –IMF predicts

French Finance Minister and G20 chair Christine Lagarde makes a statement at the G-20 Press Conference at the 2011 IMF/World Bank Spring Meetings at International Monetary Fund Headquarters (IMF), 
April 15, 2011 in Washington, D.C.
IMF Staff Photographer/Michael Spilotro
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said on Tuesday that the nation’s economy, may likely contract by 1.8 percent this year, as the country grapples with the impact of low oil prices.
The sharp fall in global prices since 2014 has led to a prolonged economic crisis since the crude sales make up around 70 percent of government revenue.
The IMF’s projection for this year, contained in its World Economic Outlook update, is down from the 2.3 percent growth it foresaw in its April forecast. It now forecasts 1.1 percent growth for 2017, down from 3.5 percent in the April forecast.
Gross domestic product contracted by 0.36 percent in the first quarter of the year and the central bank’s governor has said a recession appears to be imminent.
“In Nigeria, economic activity is now projected to contract in 2016, as the economy adjusts to foreign currency shortages as a result of lower oil receipts, low power generation, and weak investor confidence,” the IMF said.
Central bank currency restrictions imposed last year in an attempt to protect dwindling foreign reserves prompted investors to flee and led to dollar shortages, pushing down the naira currency’s value on the country’s burgeoning black market.
The peg on the value of the naira, which had been in place for 16 months, was removed in June but liquidity remains thin.
Militant attacks on oil and gas facilities in the southern Niger Delta energy hub have cut oil production, pushing what was Africa’s largest oil producer behind Angola and threatening the country’s main revenue source.
Last week the Budget Minister told lawmakers that the country’s first quarter revenues reached only 55 percent of what the government had targeted. He said the attacks on oil facilities were largely to blame.
Also, data released by National Bureau of Statistics recently showed that the nation’s annual inflation accelerated to 16.5 percent in June, revealing its highest in almost a decade and the fifth monthly increase in a row.
However, the decline in the economy indicators are intensely giving economic experts concerns as further contractions show it is sliding into full recession, with the prediction of further rise in inflation in months to come.
The Nigerian Economists Society warned that the country is about sliding into recession, saying that the flexible foreign exchange policy adopted by CBN could not survive in a non-productive economy.
It stated that Nigeria’s economy was fragile and about to enter into recession because it was characterised by high import-dependency, drastic decline in foreign exchange and double-digit inflation.
The economists, Prof. Akpan Ekpo of the University of Uyo, who spoke at the weekend on the theme: ‘Managing the naira’, added that other variables signalling recession were mass poverty, infrastructural collapse, endemic corruption and growing insecurity in the country.
A communiqué issued at the end of the symposium and made available on Sunday, stated that the problem was compounded by a poor local production structure and high-level consumption of foreign goods and services.
Head, Research Investment and Advisory of SCM Capital Ltd, Sewa Wusu,  who spoke to Daily Sun on telephone conversation, hinted that the rise was an indication of further decline in the GDP, which shows that the economy would fall into recession again.
According to him, the inflationary report may reduce with the need to for more spending to boost the purchasing power and Nigerians can be rest assured that the economy will pick up.
He stated that the belated attempt to arrest the deterioration in the system via the recent reforms in the FX flexible market adopted by CBN, partial deregulation of the downstream and followed by passage of the 2016 Budget have translated to some form of stability in each respective sector of the economy.
Wusu was optimistic the remaining half of the year would improve, as quick implementation is required in the policy areas of the economy.
He, however, added, “that does not mean we will not experience recession.” - THE SUN

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